366 25/01/2014 DA leader Helen Zille announced the lists for the 2014 national and provincial elections, she mentioned that the lists represent diversity and a dynamic DA team.Picture : Nokuthula Mbatha

Polokwane - The DA has nominated its first black premier candidate for Limpopo in a bid to attract more black voters.

Provincial party spokesman Langa Bodlani has been endorsed by the DA federal executive over experienced senior leaders.

His nomination was announced by party leader Helen Zille at the weekend.

Bodlani was nominated ahead of MP Jacques Smalle, who is the party’s provincial leader, and MPL, and caucus leader Desiree van der Walt, who has been recommended to the National Assembly.

The endorsement comes as the DA battles to grow its support in the province.

In an interview with The Star yesterday, Bodlani expressed his desire to increase the DA’s representatives in the legislature.

“You had people sitting in the legislature and the government going into a deficit and you ask yourself ‘what has happened to the legislature, which has to play an oversight role?’,” said Bodlani.

This was in reference to the R2 billion financial crisis and the near collapse of former premier Cassel Mathale’s government in 2011 under the watch of 49 MPLs.

The lax legislators were subsequently chastised by the former auditor-general, Terence Nombembe, for not playing their oversight role in his provincial general report for the 2012/13 financial year.

“Before we ran into the R2bn deficit, what did they do to hold the (former) premier and MECs to account?” Bodlani asked.

He said the DA would keep the government on its toes if it lost the elections. “You need MPLs who are vigilant,” said Bodlani, 39, who has a BA degree in law and political studies from Wits University.

He dismissed as a myth the perception that the DA was a white party, where black leaders were catapulted into leadership positions for window-dressing. “It’s so unfortunate that in our political narratives, when black people emerge, they are labelled puppets,” he said.

But even with Bodlani’s nomination, the DA’s chances of wresting the ANC out of power in the province are remote. In the 2009 elections, the DA polled 51 856 votes, compared to just over 1.2 million for the ruling party.

It has failed to increase its two seats in the legislature in the past two general elections.

The party achieved 3.48 percent of the votes in 2009, down from the 3.59 percent in 2004. In 2009, Cope – which got four seats – replaced it as the official opposition in the province.

The Star